I enjoyed the presentation on oBike last night as it gave me a quick overview of quite a few aspects on the popular bike-sharing application. I learnt that the startup has recently raised $45M for Series B financing, which is one of the largest rounds in Southeast Asia. It is also expanding to countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.
Here are three of the most important points that I picked out from the presentation!
Ugly map UX
Since the main screen of the oBike app is 100% occupied by the map view and is probably something that oBike users interact with more than 90% of the time, it should really be perfect in terms of both UI and UX. However, through some screenshots, I quickly understood why the presenting team felt that it was far from perfect.
On first load of the map view, almost half the screen is blocked out by a floating modal about a recent ride-to-win event, which might not be what a user expects to see when he just wants to look for an oBike nearby to get to his destination on time.
Another relevant point brought up was how the map view gets really cluttered when there are too many oBikes nearby. A single screenshot of Tampines showed how the whole map view can be covered by a sea of oBike icons, making it tough to even figure out your own location.
The presenting group even went as far as showing how much better the map view can look with all the noise cancelled out. Even clears up more space for a bigger unlock button.
Suggestion for better onboarding
Looking at the volume of bicycles that oBike has littered around Singapore and other countries all over the world, I imagine that they have quite a large and diverse target audience with different levels of experience with mobile applications. Hence, I feel that the presenting group’s point of having a better onboarding process for users is extremely relevant.
The group shared some screenshots in their presentation about some simple ways to improve onboarding – placard style instructions (oBike has a basic version of this already) and dimming out the whole screen and throwing spotlights on buttons they should be interacting with to perform specific actions.
Seeing that oBike has competitors like moBike and OFO entering the market, their focus should really be investing in their users’ experience with the mobile application. This way, money spent on acquiring users through referrals or promotions will not be wasted by having users scared away by confusing UI/UX.
Offering bicycle lockers
As the presentation was quite heavily focused on UI and UX elements, the last point on expanding their business model to renting out bicycle lockers explored another area oBike can work on and was significant to me.
When faced with clones of yourselves competing in the same market, it is sometimes important for a product owner to start thinking about any complementary products or services they can offer. This allows the company to differentiate itself and more importantly attract more users into its ecosystem.
Although having a locker system for baggage deposit will probably only benefit users that make round trips on oBikes, the presenting group also proposed for those locker to act as a vending machine for safety equipment like helmets that will ensure that they have a smooth and safe trip. Although these are not fully-baked suggestions, I feel that it is a new direction that oBike might be able to explore from a business standpoint.
Here are My Original Thoughts about oBike:
I was actually fine with the onboarding, but am not sure about other users who might not have had much experience with map-based mobile applications. After going through the short series of instructions introducing oBike, I was greeted with the notorious map view containing advertisements about events and discounts available.
Moving on to check out what buttons were available from the map view, I was quite confused by what the four buttons on both sides of the unlock button were supposed to do. They were a little too small and got hidden by the many oBike map pins that were present around them, since they looked paler than the map pins.
Another UX issue for me which was also mentioned during the presentation was that I had to move a pin of fixed location on the screen to indicate my starting point. Although it was already fixed on my location at the start, I remained confused for quite a while as I was not sure if it should be used to mark the start or the end of my journey.
One last thing that I felt prevented me from taking my first oBike ride was the fact that I had to throw in a deposit. This deterred me as I have never tried out oBike and was not sure if the experience was worth the money and if I will continue using it. I understand that they are trying to get new users to buy in into their ecosystem, but a free (or cheaper) trial for a brand new user surely wouldn’t hurt new user retention numbers?
I think the application critique has allowed me to think more about other aspects of an application (not just UI/UX and dev) like business models, viability in different markets and user retention. I look forward to more critique on my critique of the critique on oBike. f(f(f(x))).